• The first bus replacements will be made on the connections between Sant Joan station in Sant Cugat del Vallès and the Can Sant Joan industrial estate, and on the connection from Olesa station to Esparreguera..
  • For the rest of the lines, up to the seven planned, the vehicle that is technically best suited to the needs of each route is currently being evaluated.
  • This action is part of the Government’s policy of decarbonising mobility.

The Department of the Vice-Presidency and Digital Policies and Territory, through the Directorate General of Transport and Mobility, and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) have signed the first agreements for the replacement of the current fleet of contribution buses that connect to FGC stations with electric ones. The first lines to be replaced are the one from Sant Joan station in Sant Cugat del Vallès to the Can Sant Joan industrial estate and the one from Olesa station to Esparreguera. The new buses are scheduled to be in circulation in spring 2022. This plan to decarbonise Ferrocarrils’ station bus service is part of the Government’s Climate Action Commitment and FGC’s 10/30 Strategy, both of which are in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.

The agreements were signed with the bus concession companies and involve the purchase of new electric vehicles. On the Can Sant Joan line, operated by Marfina Bus (Moventis group), the current diesel vehicles (three 18-metre articulated buses and one 15-metre articulated bus) will be replaced by four 18-metre electric articulated buses. The annual demand on this line is 436,000 journeys (2019 data). On the Olesa de Montserrat-Esparreguera line, the two current 12-metre diesel buses will be replaced by two electric buses. The demand for this line is 44,000 journeys/year (2019 data).

As for the vehicle power supply system, in the case of the Can Sant Joan line, an ultra-fast charging point will be installed when the bus is waiting at Sant Joan station. FGC will supply the electricity purchased at high voltage and transformed with immediate availability. In the case of Olesa, the buses will be equipped with a slow-charge battery powered at night in the same depots used by the operator.

Bus lines with an annual demand of 700,000 journeys

In the rest of the contribution lines, up to the seven planned, tests are being carried out with different vehicles and manufacturers to determine the most technically viable option for each route, depending on the possibilities offered by the market and the prospects it can offer in the short term in a sector, that of the electric bus, which is in full development. The lines being analysed are: Bellaterra-Parc de Alba; Sant Vicenç dels Horts-Torrelles de Llobregat; Capellades-station; Piera-urbanisations; and Piera-Hostalets de Pierola. The total of the seven lines contributing to this decarbonisation plan have an annual demand of around 700,000 journeys (2019 data).

This action is innovative in terms of the incorporation of electric vehicles in the provision of interurban bus lines, as the use of electric vehicles is mainly aimed at the provision of services in urban areas and it is therefore necessary to work with vehicle suppliers and operators to ensure that the electric buses chosen guarantee the necessary autonomy and reliability as well as the most appropriate charging system depending on the specific characteristics of the route to be covered.

Promoting bus-train intermodality

Since 2000, FGC has been collaborating with different operators in the financing of interurban bus lines, which are the responsibility of the Generalitat de Catalunya (through the Directorate General for Transport and Mobility), insofar as they are partly or wholly bus lines that bring passengers to Ferrocarrils, and assuming that if the bus line did not exist, the passenger who currently makes the connection would not use the rail service. In this way, train-bus intermodality is encouraged, coordinating timetables, establishing quality links and at the same time promoting the use of public transport.

On the basis of this collaboration, the Directorate General for Transport and Mobility and FGC have jointly promoted the environmental improvement of the bus vehicles that provide these services and determined which electric vehicles are most suitable for the characteristics of the service on each line, the most favourable power supply system and, lastly, the economic impact of replacing the fleet.

Decarbonisation of mobility

The progressive replacement of mechanically driven vehicles by electric vehicles is part of the government’s policy to decarbonise mobility as an essential factor in the fight against climate change. Likewise, this substitution also contributes to improving air quality and reducing noise pollution. The Director General of Transport and Mobility, Mercè Rius, stresses that in Catalonia “30% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to land transport and, therefore, it is one of the areas in which we have been working most intensively”. “Any action aimed at increasing the use of public transport on the one hand and replacing fossil fuels on the other brings us closer to the target set by the European Commission to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030,” said Rius.

For FGC President Marta Subirà, “the fight against climate change and atmospheric pollution are fundamental aspects for Ferrocarrils. That is why we act in all areas within our competence, such as the use of 100% solar electricity from 2021 or the reduction of the carbon footprint of our own activity, and also in other areas in which we have the capacity to act, as in the case of the contribution bus lines. In this sense, with these electric buses we will manage to reduce the emission of 800 tonnes/year of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to the carbon capture of 183,000 trees in a year, in other words, one and a half parks in Collserola“.

Subirà also states that in a context of climate emergency, “the decarbonisation of mobility is essential to reduce emissions. Moreover, Ferrocarrils, which is evolving from a railway company to a mobility services company, offers sustainable mobility with greater public transport and the promotion of intermodality to attract demand from private vehicles to more sustainable means“.